Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Number 5: Submit A Film To A Film Festival

Here is the film. It's only 2 minutes long so you should watch it first:

If I am going to live in the Midwest, I am pretty lucky to live in a town this large and with so much going on. Being a college graduate with a BA in Commercial film and Video Production, I am even luckier that Columbia has a large film community. We have two major film festivals, the Citizen Jane Film Festival and the True/False film Festival. True/False has this film competition called “Gimme Truth”. Each film submitted to Gimme Truth is a 2-minute-or-less profile of a Missourian that is 100% true or 100% false. Then there are three judges who guess if your submission is true or false.

I wanted to make a false film to submit. For some reason, the first thing that came to mind was a competitive musical chairs team. See, that is how my mind works. What is the stupidest more ridiculous thing I can think of? Oh musical chairs. A competitive team. Sure why not?

I had a lot of help with this film. I had tried to make one the year before and didn’t have any help. It did not work out. I actually tried on two separate occasions to make this one work. Both times I asked everyone to come help me, but then I didn’t have a location. The location is very important. Without a good location it wouldn’t be believable. On the third try, we got a location. Monica Senecal helped with this and therefore received the credit of Producer. She got us a space at the first Christian Church downtown. A very believable location for a competitive musical chairs team. What is more believable than a group of people that come together with a common interest at church?

Next, we needed to recruit team members. Matt Davis and Ben Poland, my two Assistant Directors, helped me get people there. We managed to convince some of our friends and family, Rob Bartel, Elaine Martin, Val Davis, Gabe Senecal, Jan Neitzert (my awesome mother-in-law), and Andy to come on down and be the participants by promising there would be cookies. It was important that we had people of varying ages to make it more believable. It was also important there were cookies. Several varieties of cookies. We actually didn’t have too many people, so we filled the negative space of most of the interview shots with people hanging out in the background to make it appear as though there were some more people there than there actually were.

It was very important to me to have the film look good. For this we would need a good cinematographer with a good camera. This is where Logan Lemmon came in. He is a fantastic cinematographer and luckily he is also a nice guy and agreed to help out. Side note: He will die if you  feed him potatoes.

I had actually been working on the rules of competitive musical chairs for several weeks at that point. I did some research on how the game came to be and what some appropriate guidelines for a competitive team would be. After researching, it turns out there are no other competitive musical chairs teams anywhere in the world (or at least that haven't had any info about them on the internet- if you're out there, let me know...). I explained all of the rules to our team members the day of filming. They did a great job considering they learned everything just 20 minutes before we began. And judging by their interviews, they are all pretty good liars. Actors. I mean actors.

After we finished shooting I spent the next two days editing down over an hour of footage into two minutes of pure mocumentary gold. Then, I tried to convince Andy to help me burn it to a disc so I could submit. Since he was pretty busy (he was teaching a film class at the university and gearing up to shoot a feature all while in the middle of shooting a short) we didn’t burn to a disc until late the night before it was due at the T/F office. This meant I would have to go over and find the offices downtown on my lunch hour. I mean lunch half hour.

By the time I found the offices and climbed all the stairs that lead up to them, I was sweaty and out of breath. Partly due to nervousness over having my film selected, but mostly because I am ridiculously out of shape and there were a lot of stairs.

I busted in to the office and exclaimed between loud obnoxious breaths “I…Have…a…film…for…uh…is… this…Gimmetruth!?” They were in the middle of a meeting and all looked up at me. I sure felt like a world class idiot. Until this one woman, the only one not at the table and sitting at a desk said sweetly “Do you have a Gimme Truth to turn in?”
“Um, uh huh”  
“Oh great!” She said
I walked out of there thinking, I hope these people don’t remember who I am when they watch my film.

On the way back to my car (I had to park a block away before I climbed all the stairs, hence the sweat and heavy breathing) I decided to stop in to one of my favorite restaurants (Main Squeeze) for my favorite sandwich (The Grilled Cheese Deluxe) to congratulate myself on accomplishing goal number 5. After all, my goal was merely to enter a film into a festival. I had no idea I’d actually get IN!

The next few days I went back and forth thinking, I totally got in! How could I not have!? And, I didn’t get in. I just know it. I didn’t get in.

Finally, by Tuesday before the event was scheduled to take place, I got an e-mail with the subject “Congratulations Gimme Truth Finalists!” I got in! I got in!

I was so excited all week! My whole family and most of the friends in the film (and some who weren’t in the film) all came to support me. We went out to dinner first and then arrived at the theater early. I couldn’t have been more excited. They played my film first. Everyone laughed at all the right times. Afterwards I was called up on stage where each judge was allowed to ask me one question to help them decide whether my film was true or false. Two judges guessed “True”, and one guessed “False”. SUCKAS!

After all the films, they announced the winners. After they named the third place winner, I thought, I’m not gonna win. I know I’m not. They called second place and I didn’t hear my name. I thought for a second and was like, Wait! That’s the name of my film! I won second place? I won second place! Woo Hoo!!! The best part about it was that the entire time I was completely not expecting it. I walked around with my trophy glued to my hand for the rest of the night. 

It was all definitely worth it to keep going even though things were not going my way for my first few attempts. I cannot wait to submit to next year’s festival. I am already thinking of some ideas… 
Above: All dressed and ready to go to Gimme Truth!
Below: Andy and I at dinner before Gimme Truth. (Photo by Ben Hendrick)
Above: A Filmmaker on stage with the host, Johnny St. John, and the judges.
Below: Me with judge, Ameena Mathews, and our trophies after the films

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Number 11: Do something crazy (or just different) with my hair

Hair. How can I write about changing my hair and not make it boring? I can’t. Unless there are photos. Lots of photos.

Lets take a look back on all of my hair styles. From the age of 1 all the way until now, I only have four different styles. 1. Short, 2.short with bangs, 3. long, 4. long with bangs. BOOOOORING.

1986. Ok, what child didn’t have this hairstyle in 1986? I’m about two here. In the 80’s little boys and girls pretty much looked the same. We all had this stupid bowl haircut or a mullet. There was a shortage of pink and frilly baby clothes. I guess it was just the thing. This is how I remember the 80’s. Being ages 0-5 during the 80’s doesn’t really serve my memory too well. I’m probably right. I usually am.

1991. I’m pretty cute here. Though my bangs could use a trim.

1992. Between the 2nd and third grades I grew out my bangs. Then in a drastic style change, I got bangs again! WOW!

Between these two photos I got bangs again. I can't find a photo. Though I didn't really look either...

1997. GAHHH! What the…!? Yes, this is when I was a tweenage ogre. My nose had a growth spurt and my face still had to catch up. But the point here is I was growing out my “little kid” bangs. Again. And so began my long, stringy, style-less hair. Ew and here in the 7th grade it was also greasy. Yuck.

From ages 12 to 26 I had this boring hair style.
(with my friend, Jodi) I'm the one with the boring hair.

For years and years I kept my long, stringy, straight, boring hair. I was really pretty attached. Literally, attached to my hair. Hahaha…ha? Ok, sorry. That was not funny. Why is that we become so attached (mentally) to our hair? It grows. In a matter of months it will be right back to the way it was.

Getting my bangs cut was not just a matter of changing styles, but I see now it is just part of my natural hair progression. I keep going back and forth. It has been 14 years since I last had bangs and now, once again, it was time.

I was nervous when I went to get my bangs cut. Physically nervous. I also got highlights, which I was equally nervous about. But of course it all turned out just fine and I am happy with the way I look. I did however increase my prep time in the morning from 2 minutes to 6 minutes. But I can live with that. Barely.

Below: My new hair. It's difficult to see the highlights.

My next hair venture will be to dye it black. I decided to rock this style for a little while (that’s right, I’m rockin the bangs) and then in about 6 months or so, I’ll dye it black. Maybe layer it a bit, cut it short… whatever it is, it will be something different. These bangs and highlights have opened the door to my being adventurous, hair wise.

Ok. Sorry to bore you. This has to be, without a doubt, the most boring item on my list. I promise it only gets more interesting from here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Number 21: Try Sushi

Above: Andy and I out for my birthday. I like this photo because the camera angle makes my face look good and skinny. 

I once ate a bug. Yes, sir I did. It was a worm looking thing and it was garlic flavored. I was at this fall fair and they had a whole section about bugs and one of the tables boasted "Eat A Bug!" I was all by myself with the baby, and for some reason I just got it in my head that I was going to do it. I was going to eat a bug. I selected a garlic flavored one (there was also Cajun, chili, and cinnamon sugar). The people running the "Eat A Bug" table cheered me on.  And I just did it. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and popped that bug in my mouth, chewed and swallowed. It tasted like a little piece of garlic Pringle. It wasn’t at all bad. It was just that thought that It had legs that totally creeped me out. I am very strangely proud that I ate a bug. Like really, really proud. To me the idea of sushi was no different than that bug.

I have to admit, I have tried sushi before. I was twelve. I was at someone’s Bar Mitzvah and they had one of those awesome cocktail hours that I LOVE, the ones with the different sections of food from around the world. I only love it because Italy is always represented and pasta is my one true food-love. They also always have Asian cuisine. Come to think of it, I can’t remember what other type of “worldly cuisine” those cocktail hours had... Mexican? Anyway, I was hanging out with my friend Gabe. We were by the Asian table and for whatever reason Gabe told me that Sushi was candy. Did he know the truth? To this day I don’t know if he truly believed that sushi was candy or if he was just being mean. He was also twelve and is a pretty smart guy, always has been, so I am willing to believe it was the latter. Anyways, I picked up the sushi thing, popped it into my mouth expecting something sweet, maybe even fruity, and got something GROSS AND FISHY. I immediately spit it out into my hand and chucked it under the Asian Cuisine table. Because of this one bad experience I have not ever wanted to touch sushi again. Thanks a lot, GABE. This is surprising considering my obsession with Japanese pop culture (Well, primarily Japanese candy and adorable small novelty toys). The time has come for me to try sushi because even Andy (my husband) likes it, and if you knew him, you’d know that seems unlikely. 

For my birthday, Andy surprised me by taking me to the BEST sushi place in town, Jina Yoos. Being that my birthday fell on Easter this year, (No, actually it was Easter that fell on my birthday...) we were the only ones in the restaurant. Jina herself came over to our table and Andy told her it was my first time trying sushi. Jina was very nice and asked about my likes and dislikes and gave suggestions. She also said she could offer us options that were off-menu. I ended up choosing the Scarlet Shrimp Roll. It had fried shrimp, (I just wasn’t ready to try raw), cream cheese, spicy tuna, spicy mayo, and a few other ingredients I just can’t remember. Our food arrived and it was time to taste... 

I was spending too much time thinking about my horrible and disgusting first experience with sushi. Then I thought about all the millions of people that love eating sushi and about how they can’t ALL be wrong. And back to the time I ate that bug and how I just went for it. So that's what I did. I just went for it, and guess what? It was so super delicious; I am CRAVING IT RIGHT NOW. Next I tried some of Andy’s sushi. He DID have raw salmon in his. I tasted it and it tasted a little too fishy for me. He also had a roll called the Mr. Myagi (yup. Haha!) which was really good and it also had some raw fish in it.

Jina Yoos was awesome and delicious and I definitely recommend it to anyone in the Columbia area. I am feeling much braver about trying new foods. What’s the worst that could happen? I spit it out. That would be the absolute worst, most rude thing I could do and it isn’t so bad. I still have a lot of different types of sushi to taste. Types that look way more fishy and will require much more food-bravery than my fried shrimp sushi. Bring it on!

Above: My Scarlet Shrimp Roll
Below: Andy's sushi rolls

Below: Andy with his Mr. Myagi sushi roll

Below: Andy and me with our Sake
Below: Tasting Sushi!
Below: I cleaned my plate!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Number 9: Audition For A Musical

(I thought I should fill you in on the goals I accomplished before I started this blog. I am going to begin with Number 9)...

I am a theater geek. Well in high school I was. I was a member of our Thespian troupe. In order to be inducted you need 100 hours of theater service both on and off stage. I worked very hard painting sets months before our shows opened and backstage during performances. Wait, did I say worked really hard? I think I might have meant goofed off for 92 hours with about 8 hours of actual hard work. Yup, I am pretty sure that is what I meant. I am sure Audrey Miller, the set painting club supervisor and awesome-est art teacher I never actually had as a teacher, would agree. Ahhhh, high school theater. The glory days. I was stage manager for “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”, co-directed “Free To Be You And Me” with my friend Tracy, and all around had a blast. Some of us would go every weekend to get rush tickets for the Rocky Horror Show on Broadway (Oh yeah I am from New York for anyone who doesn’t know me reading this). These were some of the best times I’ve had in my life and I knew it then.

What I really wanted was to be in the musicals. I auditioned for one musical and didn’t make it. Just one. My dream was, and is to this day, to be in a musical. But just because high school is long over doesn’t mean I can’t still make this happen right? And just because I am not really a strong singer or dancer or actress doesn’t mean I couldn’t be, right?

My friend, Monica, is really involved in the Columbia Entertainment Company (our local theater group). She let me know back in November that she would be directing “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and that I should audition. I immediately agreed.

Suddenly I got this image in my head of myself on stage with the lights shining in my eyes and the silhouettes of my family in the audience. I had a vision of typing up the Facebook status, “I’m in a musical!” and all the congratulatory comments that would follow. And so goal number 9: Audition For A Musical (and the idea for this entire list) was born.

Then I came down from my cloud and remembered how I kinda suck at singing and dancing. Well, I’m not that bad. I have just never had any kind of training in either. Kindergarten ballet and those three months I was in chorus in sixth grade do not count. So I downloaded part of the soundtrack from Spelling Bee off of iTunes. I did some research on the internet and read (and memorized) some of the audition sides. I watched some Youtube videos of the characters. I decided I would be best for the role of Logaine SchwartzandGrubeniere. I learned her song “Woe Is Me” and decided, even though it is not traditional to sing a song from the show you are auditioning for, to do just that. I practiced from about January to April about 1-2 times per week for about an hour each time.

Ok, I sound crazy, right? But you can tell just how badly I wanted this. A few days before the audition I began having second thoughts, but I pushed them out of my head. I was going to do this no matter what.

The day of the audition came and I was pretty nervous. Then I arrived at the Church where the audition was to be held and my nervousness turned to excitement. I am really going to do this!” I thought. I was so happy when I was called up third, because I don’t think I could have sat still much longer.

I got up there and I ROCKED it! I had little moves that went along with it and I belted it out, which I have NEVER been able to do before when singing in front of people. The character I auditioned for has a lisp and I had that lisp down PERFECTLY. Judging by the other auditions I could tell that I shouldn’t count myself out yet. They weren’t bad, I just meant I was just as good as they were. And I wasn’t delusional this time either!

I got a callback! I could not believe it. I had never in my life gotten called back for anything. I continued to practice. When I arrived back at the church, I knew I was out of my league. Way out of my league. This other girl there, Jordan, was up for the same part I was. She was AMAZING. I had seen her in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar just a couple of months earlier so I already knew she was going to be good. She had experience and charisma and I’d like to say moxy. I’m probably right about that, but I have no idea what moxy is. I guess I should have just Googled it instead of letting you all think I’m an idiot.  Anyway when I saw her I knew I didn’t have this part. As if my inability to sing along with accompaniment and my completely moronic dance audition weren’t already tell tale signs. When it was all over and I found out the next day that I didn’t have the part, I didn’t feel at all disappointed. Monica obviously saw something in me that was enough to put me up against these other girls with experience and amazing natural talent. I didn’t feel like I belonged there, but I felt honored that I was good enough to be up against those girls.

I really feel like I accomplished something. I will audition for musicals in the future. I think I might find a pianist to help me work on singing with accompaniment and maybe take an aerobics class or two at the gym to help me to learn how to catch on to dance moves quickly and keep up with everyone. For now I will concentrate on some of my other goals. I will be revisiting this one, however.

By the way, Monica asked me to be the props mistress for the show and I am beyond thrilled. I am so excited to be involved and to meet all these new people! I’d like to thank everyone in that audition and especially at the callback for not laughing at me. Thanks guys!

Above: Some us Thespians being Thespians
Below: Me with one of my besties, Mary Orzano, when I stage managed How To Succeed... and she was the leading lady, Rosemary.

Number 4: Continued

I tasted a cupcake. It was good. I would buy that $7.99 cupcake mix again, but only for a special occasion because I am not made of money (but I just pictured what I'd look like if I was...). The cupcakes with the eggs on top have a Cadbury cream eggs in the center. Um, yeah, they do. Which brings me to a goal I'd like to add: Bake things into cupcakes. I will first try to put peanut butter cups in there. What else can I bake into a cupcakes? Hmmmmmmmmmmm...

The next goal I will tackle is number 21: Try Sushi.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Number 4: “Learn To Use/Make Fondant/Modeling Chocolate”

To start: What is Modeling Chocolate? and What is Fondant?

I am a product of America and generation Y or X or Q (or whatever, I have no idea actually, which generation I am a “product of” I just liked the way that sounded). being American and of this generation (whichever one it was) we were always told (and I believed) "you can do anything!" And for some reason one of those things I believed was that I was a dessert decorating wizard. This of course was never true. My little sister is way better at it than me, at both baking and decorating. I am pretty mediocre. I don’t know just when it was that I became so delusional. In my mind baking was MY thing that she so rudely ripped out from under me by being so suddenly awesome at it. In reality, aside from her natural talents (she is naturally quite talented at this sort of thing), she took months and months of Wilton cake decorating classes, majored in food sciences in college, and even studied cooking in Florence, Italy for a few months. I was really just jealous when my little sister surpassed my mediocre cake decorating abilities and became more awesome than me at something (She is actually more awesome than me at a lot of things). But looking back on our childhood and teenage years, she was always cooking and baking (hence her choice to study it in college). I can count on one hand the number of cakes I baked and decorated. I think I made 3. THREE. Yup that’s it. I really admire my sister’s abilities and am so impressed by all the cakes she makes. If I could learn to be half as awesome as her, my cakes and cupcakes would seriously ROCK. So I have a lot of baking related goals on my list. Some are things that sounded cool to me. Some things I just like to eat or want to taste. This particular goal is just the beginning of my baking and decorating adventures!

So the modeling chocolate thing was not going well already. Well the cupcake part was not going as planned anyway. I had baked the cupcakes on Tuesday night so they would be ready when my friend, KC, came over to teach me how to make and use the modeling chocolate on Wednesday. Why is it no one sells regular cake mix anymore? Only extra moist or moist? Those are NOT good for decorating cupcakes or cakes. Before I baked the cupcakes, KC had suggested I also make a pound cake mix and add a little bit of that in there because that would solve the moist gooey problem that occurs when using the moist or extra moist cake mixes. I looked everywhere for pound cake mix and I couldn’t find any. So I just baked the cupcakes without it. I went home to have some lunch on Wednesday. While I was there I decided to check on the cupcakes. I had put them in a container before they even had a chance to cool so that I could go to bed. Well, they were all moist and gooey on top which is the WORST THING EVER for icing cupcakes. The icing just sticks and pulls the top layer of cupcake off and it is stupid. Just plain stupid. I decided to leave the cupcakes out of the box and hopefully the moistness would dry or go away or something.

The moistness did not completely go away by the time I got home form work so I took the baby (I guess she would be a toddler now) and we went out in search of pound cake mix. I ended up finding the most expensive cake mix I had ever seen, a box of Duff Goldman's white cake mix for $7.99. Yup, $7.99. I thought, This stuff had better be good! Well, I got home and baked it and turns out if was perfect for what I needed it for. I still haven't tasted it yet though... 

KC was running a little late, but when she arrived I was totally ready to go. It turns out modeling chocolate is not as difficult as I had originally anticipated and it’s totally fun! It tastes like tootsie rolls and is as fun as playdough! It’s made from corn syrup and chocolate. We colored it lime green, neon yellow, neon, blue, and neon pink because those were the colors we had. I decided I wanted to make little flower shapes because I wanted to keep it simple on my first attempt and I found these cute little flower shaped cookie type cutters that are used for fondant and modeling chocolate.

We also made icing. Which, again, was even easier than I thought. I don’t know if I’ll be buying store bought icing anymore. Unless I am in a hurry I guess.  

The cupcakes turned out pretty and cute! Thanks KC for all your help!!! I hope they taste good. I am a little nervous about the taste since I have never used that cake mix before, never made icing before, and obviously never made modeling chocolate before either. I guess we shall see tonight…

Here is a pic of the cupcakes and a little of the "process":

So, Ilyssa, How are my cupcakes? Did I do a good job?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

25 Things in 2011

This year instead of a New Years resolution, I decided to come up with a list of primarily simple goals I'd like to accomplish before the year is out. Here they are.

25 things I will accomplish this year 
  1. Take a Yoga Class at the gym
  2. Learn to swim
  3. Bake Petit Fours
  4. Learn how to use fondant/Modeling Chocolate
  5. Submit a film into a film festival
  6. Learn to knit
  7. Do cornrows in someones hair
  8. Shop at the local farmers market
  9. Audition for a musical
  10. Have a lemonade stand
  11. Do something crazy (or just very different) with my hair
  12. Paint a set of 8 dishes at Hands On Ceramics 
  13. Go to Arkansas
  14. Bowl a 200 (real bowling, not on the Wii)
  15. Learn to sew 
  16. Sew a dress for Lilly
  17. Shop and eat at more local places I’ve never been to
  18. Ride a horse and not be scared (and not fall off and suffer a fatal head injury… no, stop it, Sara, I said I wouldn’t be scared!)
  19. Take a craft or cake decorating class
  20. Take a cooking class
  21. Try Sushi
  22. Ride my Bike to work
  23. Plan a big surprise for someone!
  24. Tie Dye some stuff
  25. Make pop rocks cupcakes
So far, of this list, I have accomplished 3 of my goals! The first being number 5. "Submit A Film Into A Film Festival". I made a short film for the True/False Film Festival's "Gimme Truth" competition about a fictional musical chairs team. Not only did I submit, but my film got in and I won second place in the competition! Each film is a 2-minute-or-less profile of a Missourian that is 100% true or 100% false. Then there are three judges who guess if your submission is true or false.

The next goal I accomplished is 9. "Audition For A Musical". I auditioned for a local production of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee". I actually got a  callback! I am so proud of myself for just getting up there and doing it. I was SO nervous, but I just told myself that not doing it was not an option. I didn't get the part, but I am not even the least bit disappointed. I was by far the least experienced one there. The dance part of the audition was a nightmare! I was terrible!!! I was not doing the same thing as everyone else, I couldn't keep up and I even made up stuff that wasn't part of the routine as I went because I couldn't do the steps the choreographer had showed us. I just kept on going with a smile on my face. When the director called to let me know I hadn't gotten the part, she said the choreographer thought I did a wonderful job in the dance audition. I asked her if she was sure she had the right person.  

The third goal I have "accomplished" is number 11. "Do Something Crazy  (Or Very Different) With My Hair". I got bangs and highlights. Definitely different, but not so crazy. 

Tonight I accomplish number 4. "Learn How To Use Fondant/Modeling Chocolate" by learning how to make and decorate cupcakes with modeling chocolate. I will learn fondant at a later date, so I guess it will only be half accomplished. I'll post pics.

Above is the short film from the T/F film Festival's Gimme Truth competition which I made with the help of Matt Davis, Ben Poland, Logan Lemmon, Andy Neitzert, Jan Neitzert, Val Davis, Monica Senecal, Rob Bartel, Elaine Martin, and Gabe Senecal.